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How companies have dealt with recruiting developers remotely

14 Jan 2021

Tech recruiters had to adapt their practices in 2020, with some turning to virtual hackathons and code-specific interview tools.

As remote recruitment looks set to continue into 2021, hiring software provider HackerEarth has published a report on recruiting developers remotely.

It presents findings from a survey the company carried out last year of more than 2,500 tech recruiters and hiring managers from start-ups, SMEs, middle-market firms and enterprises.

While many companies have had to adapt their hiring practices over the last year, the effects of the pandemic on developer recruitment weren’t all bad, the report suggests.

HackerEarth CEO Sachin Gupta said that the pandemic has impacted developer recruitment in a number of positive ways. “This has meant an erasure of outdated practices, a breaking down of geographical boundaries and a newfound belief in the adage that skills trump all else.

“Some of these practices were already on their way out, true, but Covid-19 has undeniably hastened their exit.”

Remote hiring practices

While one-third of survey respondents said they hadn’t experienced any significant uptick in applicants during 2020, almost 31pc said that pivoting to remote hiring had increased the talent pool.

Recruiters also searched for new ways to engage candidates, according to HackerEarth. While LinkedIn, internal referrals, job portals and careers pages remained the most popular sources, hiring managers also leveraged virtual hackathons, coding contests and workshops.

Like other industries, tech hiring managers relied on video-conferencing tools for interviewing job candidates. While many used popular choices like Zoom, the report said that other recruiters opted for tools that include built-in code-editing features to assess candidates’ coding skills in real time. This included platforms such as CoderPad and Codility CodeLive.

HackerEarth found that of the recruiters who hadn’t been using remote hiring tools before Covid, 42pc decided to employ them during the pandemic.

Challenges in recruiting remotely

The challenges remote recruitment teams faced last year included a lack of access to the right tools to assess candidates’ skills, a longer time-to-hire for enterprises and hiring for diversity.

The hardest roles to assess remotely, respondents said, were full-stack developers, data scientists and machine learning professionals.

HackerEarth’s report said this is because such roles involve an amalgamation of skills. As a result, creating customised tests and parameters for accurate assessments can be a challenge for recruiters.

Diversity was an important topic for employers last year and the developer industry was no exception. In response to HackerEarth’s survey, most recruiters said they had prioritised diversity when hiring tech staff despite Covid-related constraints. Diversity was of lower concern, however, to recruiters in early-stage start-ups.

Skills and perks to watch

Survey respondents also commented on the skills likely to come out on top in 2021. AI and machine learning will be in highest demand, they said, as opportunities for specialists in these fields continue to crop up across banking, fintech, public safety, healthcare and more.

They cited health insurance and flexible working hours as the most in-demand perks and predicted greater emphasis on upskilling through coding platforms and bootcamps as companies continue to work remotely.

“While a work-from-home fund and wellness breaks are good to have,” the report says, “recruiters said that more developers were asking about upskilling opportunities than before – proving once more that skills are the only currency in the tech world.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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